Monday, December 12, 2011
(Photo taken from Google Images from an old Victor record catalog)
Harry E Humphrey was the main voice of the Photodrama of Creation, as well as the voice of the reissued Angelophone recordings found in IBSA catalogs from 1916. As such, he deserves a footnote in Watch Tower history.
Humphrey was born in 1873. In his long career, he was variously described as a monologist, an elocutionist, an actor and recording artist. His heyday was in the years prior to 1925 when audio recordings were acoustic. In those days, raw sound with its limited frequency range was literally collected by a horn and sent to equipment that vibrated a cutting stylus. Recording artistes sometimes had to virtually put their head into the recording horn and shout to get an acceptable result.
Even so, to get sufficient “bite” for this kind of recording a certain voice quality was needed. This determined who became “names” and who fell by the wayside in the early days of sound recording.
Humphrey worked with Thomas Alva Edison, one of whose inventions was the phonograph – originally intended as an office Dictaphone system, before the entertainment world took over. According to the International Movie Database, around the time that Edison produced a system for linking recordings with film to create a sound system called the Kinetophone, Humphrey worked with him in his South Orange laboratories.
The earliest known recording of Humphrey dates from 1912, and from then on into the first half of the 1920s he was very busy. As well as a plethora of Blue Amberol cylinders and Diamond Discs for Edison, Humphrey also recorded discs for other labels like Victor. His output included speeches, poems, explanatory dialog to go with music, and finally – language learning recordings.
If you want a flavor of his style – apart from Watch Tower related recordings – there are quite a few on YouTube. They include famous poems such as Gunga Din (a lovely over the top performance) and famous speeches like Lincoln’s Speech at Gettysburg. Perhaps one of the most entertaining dates from 1922 – Santa Claus Hides in Your Phonograph – Humphrey’s maniacal laugh would be enough to scare the living daylights out of most children of the day.
So when the timbre of CTR’s voice was judged unsuitable for the Photodrama’s main recordings, the Watch Tower Society went to the top man of the day to fill the gap. There appears no evidence that Humphrey took any personal interest in the Bible Student movement; this was simply another job for which he was paid in what were very busy years for him.
He was hired again to help salvage the Angelophone debacle, which has been earlier described on this blog. There were fifty small records issued on which Henry Burr sang hymns on one side, and CTR recorded a short descriptive sermon on the reverse. The recordings were poor due to CTR’s voice quality, exacerbated by his poor health in 1916. After complaints were received, the sermons were re-recorded by Humphrey. The project was probably not helped by the use of the “hill and dale” method of recording – as with cylinders, the needle travelled up and down in the groove rather than from side to side. It meant the discs could be a smaller 7 inch size, but it also meant they could all too easily be damaged by the wrong type of equipment. You were supposed to buy an Acme, Superba or Cabinet Angelophone to play them.
The idea of having music on one side of a disc and a descriptive lecture on the other was quite common at this time, and Humphrey later did a series explaining short operatic pieces on the Edison Diamond label.
The death-knell for his main employment came around 1925, when electrical recording was introduced across the board. Recording deficiencies in a wide range of voices could now be overcome. Also one suspects that Humphrey’s stentorian style – redolent of Victorian recitations – went rapidly out of style in the roaring twenties.
His subsequent career was as an actor. A few appearances in small parts on Broadway are listed, and he is credited with co-writing a play called The Skull c. 1928. It was reviewed as “an old fashioned melodrama” and published in book form in 1937.
Then in the sound era he had a few minor roles in movies. They ranged from the prestigious - Orson Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons, to the less than prestigious - Dick Tracey’s G Men.
Perhaps the nicest gesture was a bit part in the 1940 film, Edison the Man – where the story of his old mentor was given the Hollywood treatment starring Spencer Tracey. Humphrey did not play himself, but had an uncredited bit part as a broker.
Humphrey died in 1947 (aged 73) in Los Angeles County, California.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
The One Faith movement were age-to-come believers. Stetson adopted that theology in 1863, though he remained within the Second Advent communion until his death. Storrs left Millerite Adventism in 1844, and there was constant tension between him and Adventists.
Various age to come and One Faith congregations are often called Age to Come Adventists. They rejected the identity, but sought cooperation with Advent Christians and others. A push to remove age to come believers from AC congregations came to a head in 1874-1878.
Russell was never an Adventist. He was a Millennarian. The Millennarian movement did not derive from the Adventist movement, but preceded it, and was the mainstream in the US and UK. It is nonsense to suggest Russell's theology derived from Adventism. It's unhistorical.
More on this is on the private blog.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
We've been getting many visits to this post in the last 2 months. This is curious. Please explain your interest. - R. M. de Vienne
Note: This was abridged from an article originally appearing on blog 2. The complete article with an update has now been reposted on this blog on July 23, 2013, which please see.
Although the Emphatic Diaglott and its publication by the Watch Tower Society come a little later than the main period being researched on this blog, this translation had a major role to play in the early history of the Society.
This article will review that history briefly, but is primarily written to reveal who actually obtained the plates and gave the copyright to the Watch Tower Society in 1902.
Benjamin Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott was first published in one volume in 1864 and the edition produced by the Fowler and Wells Company of New York was widely used by various Adventist and Age to Come groups. Wilson had been a friend of John Thomas, founder of the Christadelphians, but the two ultimately had doctrinal differences and split. While Thomas founded the Christadelphians, Wilson – although strongly anti-organization - had a major role in the founding of the (Age to Come) Church of God of Abrahamic Faith.
The Diaglott’s connection with our history starts when one of Nelson Barbour’s readers, Benjamin Keith, hit upon Wilson’s translation of the Greek word “parousia” as “presence” rather than “coming”. This set minds working on an apparently failed prediction for Christ’s second coming in 1874. If the coming was an invisible presence then their expectations had actually been fulfilled – but invisibly. This view ultimately became a major part of Charles Taze Russell’s belief system. (Hereafter abbreviated to CTR).
Once established, Zion’s Watch Tower Society highly endorsed the Diaglott. In Old Theology Quarterly for April 1893 “Friendly Hints on Bible Study and Students’ Helps” pages 9 and 10, the Diaglott is highly recommended as (quote) another of God’s special blessings for our day...While we cannot say this work is perfect, we can say that we know of no other translation of the New Testament so valuable to the critical student – and this includes all to whom we write (end quote).
At the same time, The Restitution paper carried an advertisement for the Diaglott each week for several decades.
Wilson died in 1900. Shortly after, in 1902, the copyright to the Diaglott was obtained for the Watch Tower Society, and they became its publisher for the next one hundred years. Anyone who wanted to obtain a Diaglott now had to contact the Watch Tower Society.
The Proclaimers book on page 606 made the comment (quote) That same year (1902), the Watch Tower Society came into possession of the printing plates for The Emphatic Diaglott...Those plates and the sole right of publication had been purchased and then given as a gift to the Society (end quote).
The original reference comes from the back page of the Watch Tower for December 15, 1902 (which is not in the reprints). In offering the Diaglott as part of a list of available publications, the blurb stated (quote) For several years a friend, an earnest Bible student, desirous of assisting the readers of our Society's publications, has supplied them through us at a greatly reduced price; now he has purchased the copyright and plates from the Fowler & Wells Co., and presented the same to our Society as a gift, under our assurance that the gift will be used for the furthering of the Truth to the extent of our ability, by such a reduction of price as will permit the poor of the Lord's flock to have this help in the study of the Word. REDUCED PRICES.--These will be sold with ZION'S WATCH TOWER only. (end quote)
So who was this earnest Bible student, anonymous friend and benefactor?
The answer was established in a court hearing in 1907. And it is not rocket science to guess who it really was.
The hearing was in connection with CTR’s difficulties with Maria Russell, and in April 1907 testimony was taken on CTR’s financial situation. At this hearing he explained quite openly how the Society obtained the Diaglott.
He stressed that the aim had been to allow as many as possible to obtain the Diaglott, and so had made it available on a not for profit basis.
Quoting from pages 204-205 of the transcript of the April 1907 hearing, CTR said (quote and CAPITALS MINE)
We publish also a brief New Testament, with an interlinear translation in English, and the marginal translation. It was published originally and for many years, for 30 or 40 years, by Fowler and Wells, of New York. THE PLATES WERE PRESENTED TO THE SOCIETY BY MYSELF. The Society had certain corrections made in the new plates etc., as they were considerably worn, and the edition which Fowler and Wells retailed at $4.00 and wholesaled at $2.66 – 2/3 the Society is now publishing at $1.50 per copy, and it includes postage of 16 cents on this, and as they are nearly all purchased by subscribers to the Watch Tower it goes additional with each volume, and in his subscription to the journal; that is to say, that the Watch Tower for the year and this book that was formerly sold for $4.00 go altogether, with postage included, for $1.50, WITH THE VIEW OF INTERESTING PEOPLE IN THE WATCH TOWER PUBLICATION, and permitting the Watch Tower subscribers to have the Diaglott in every home possible (end of quote).
So CTR personally donated the plates to the Watch Tower Society.
The repairs to the plates extended the life of the Diaglott, and the new price made it more accessible to the public. In addition, throwing in a year’s Watch Tower subscription as part of the deal was adroit proselytizing. For instance, any newcomers to the world of The Restitution who wanted a Diaglott (or wanted just to replace a copy), now had to approach the Watch Tower Society for one. It was perhaps not surprising that attacks on CTR’s theology intensified in The Restitution in the early 20th century.
However, this leaves us with the question: Why did CTR chose to remain anonymous, referring instead to a nameless benefactor?
It is here this writer is on shaky ground, because we have no direct way of knowing. But I can suggest two reasons why CTR might have done this.
First, there are his comments in the booklet A Conspiracy Exposed and Harvest Siftings published in 1894. In dealing with a query, CTR said on page 45 (quote) I bring my own name as little into prominence as possible. This will be noticed in connection with everything I have published – the O(ld) T(heology) Tracts, the DAWNS, etc. (end quote).
Looking at the tract series and early editions of the Dawns (Studies) one would be hard put to discover the author. CTR indeed kept quite a low profile at this time. That basic desire to keep a personal name out of matters may have influenced CTR’s decision to donate the Diaglott without claiming personal credit.
A second related reason may be tied to another comment from A Conspiracy Exposed, this time page 40. In connection with a business matter, CTR made the comment that he (quote) preferred to avoid any unnecessary notoriety (end quote). Had the world known that CTR had bought the plates and the rights from Fowler and Wells, there could have been uproar in certain quarters. This writer would theorize that if various Age to Come groups who used the Diaglott knew for certain that CTR had personally brought their baby under his control – and now would only make it available with a year’s worth of his journal – promoting his brand of heresy as they saw it – then cries of Foul and Unfair would ring out loud and clear.
There would be rumbles whatever happened, but no name – no direct blame. An anonymous benefactor leading to a publishing organisation generously providing the volume at reduced cost to all was far better P.R.
In fact, CTR did the public a great service. He rescued the Diaglott from potential oblivion with the state of the plates as they were. Then that reduction from $4.00 to $1.50 was well worth having. And for around a hundred years thereafter, the Watch Tower Society made this translation readily available to all. Ultimately the copyright expired and the Society’s inventory dwindled. Since 2004, groups like the Abrahamic Faith Beacon Publishing Society published their own version and viewed the translation as “coming home”. Interestingly, the modern versions published have retailed at a far higher price than the Watchtower Society ever charged, even when they did have a fixed contribution for literature.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Sunday, November 13, 2011
On the move to Brooklyn in 1909 the Old Theology Series of tracts was discontinued. It was to be replaced by a new monthly series, which for a while went under three different names, People's Pulpit, Everybody's Paper, and Bible Students Monthly.
The first title was People's Pulpit and Volume 1 Number 1 covered the opening of the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Soon some were issued as Everybody's Paper, which rearranged the contents slightly to allow the back page (in whole or part) to be used to advertize a public lecture - often an overprinted local one (or even scrawled in handwriting in the blank space at times).
Both series were soon being called Bible Students Monthly and this title was added officially. Many of the early issues were reissued with this masthead as volunteer matter. By the beginning of 1913 Bible Students Monthly had won out as the title.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Illustrated above are George Stetson’s meetings at Quincy Hall, Allegheny, as reported in The Advent Christian Times in November, 1873, and George Clowes’ meetings at the same address as reported in The Restitution (Age to Come/One Faith) in November, 1874.
Note: this is an abridged version of this article. The full article with all the references can be found on blog number 2.
As previously established on this blog, the Allegheny meetings of the early 1870s had an eclectic mix. In the early days Advent Christians and Age to Come believers would often meet together. They were united on their keen interest in the return of Christ and conditional immortality, while generally divided over such subjects as the destiny of Israel, the resurrection, the timing of key events, and the advisability (or otherwise) of date setting.
As long as everyone remained tolerant and unofficial the situation could continue. But while Age to Come believers of the 1870s were independent groups, the Second Adventists were increasingly anxious for recognition as an established religion. This required an official statement of belief covering not just vague generalities but specifics. As George Storrs would put it, writing in Bible Examiner for June 1876, about his distaste for Advent Conferences, (quote) I have seen this process of organizing conferences, especially, with deep sorrow. Next come “Resolutions”, theory of course, at first; but presently dictatorial, next penal (end of quote).
The logical outcome from this was described in Bible Examiner (hereafter abbreviated to BE) for October 1877, where Elder S W Bishop quotes from a resolution passed at the last session of The Advent Christian Association, to the effect that (quote) appointments to preach shall not be passed in their organ, The World’s Crisis, for anyone who believes...the following doctrines...viz...age to come (end quote). Bishop relates tales of those preaching future probation being forced out of churches.
In spite of this, some individuals still managed to straddle the divide through the 1870s. George Stetson was a case in point. Ordained by the Advent Christian Church they claimed him as one of their own, but in the last few years of his life he probably wrote more articles for The Restitution, and his meetings in Edinboro were regularly announced there.
As noted above, Stetson’s 1873 meetings at Quincy Hall in Allegheny were billed as Advent Christian. The local man, George Clowes, had also been claimed as Advent Christian at one point, but as also noted above, by 1874, his ministry at Quincy Hall was now claimed as One Faith, Age to Come.
So which was it to be? Advent Christian or Age to Come?
While the group associated with the Russell family no doubt retained its independence, allowing the majority to link up with Nelson Barbour later, if you had to attach a label, Age to Come believers in future probation (rather than Advent Christian) would be it.
This article will present three lines of evidence to establish this. First, the way their meetings were advertised in the religious press, and then two key visitors whose preaching was accepted by the group.
The first point we have already covered. The November 1874 meetings with Elder Clowes were advertised as Age to Come. As we will see later, the meetings Clowes attended were also attended by Joseph Lytel Russell, William H Conley, and Charles Taze Russell (hereafter abbreviated to CTR). When Clowes died in 1889 Zion’s Watch Tower published an obituary for him in the March issue (reprints 1110).
Second and third, we have two known visitors to the group.
The first was George Storrs himself, who visited in May 1874 and wrote quite a detailed account of his experiences. Before we try and pigeon-hole Storrs’ theology, it would be useful to outline what happened both before, during and after his visit to Pittsburgh.
Shortly after his magazine became a monthly again, Storrs offered to preach on the subject of Vindication of the Divine Character and Government to any group who would welcome him. The next issue, April 1874, noted that C T Russell and Son had been in touch, as had George Stetson in Edinboro. Another regular Pittsburgh correspondent from this era was C W Buvinger, M.D. Whoever gave the invitation, it was given promptly and Storrs responded promptly. In the May 1874 BE, Storrs announced that he would be in Pittsburgh on the first and second Sundays of that month.
In the June 1874 BE, Storrs’ editorial gives a detailed review of his trip to Pittsburgh. Storrs (quote) found there a small but noble band of friends who upheld with the full hearts the truths advocated by himself. Among them is a preacher who was formerly of the Methodists (end quote). This would appear to be George Clowes.
Storrs reproduced a newspaper review from The Pittsburgh Leader on his talk at the Library Hall. In his talk Storrs refers to “the ages to come” and stresses that (quote) all men have will have an opportunity, if not in this life, in another one...Some may call me Universalist. I am in one sense; I believe that a universal opportunity will be accorded to every son and daughter of Adam (end of quote). Storrs ended his review by thanking the friends in Pittsburgh for their generous support sustaining him and sending him on his way.
Storrs’ visit had an immediate impact. In the same June 1874 issue of BE, under the heading Parcels Sent up to May 25 are several well-known names: Wm H Conley (2 parcels), G D Clowes Snr. and J L Russell and Son (by Express). Sandwiched between the names of Clowes and Russell in the list is a B F Land. It is only conjecture on this writer’s part, but CTR’s sister Margaret, who was about twenty years old at this time, was to marry a Benjamin Land. They had their first child c. 1876. One wonders when and where they met.
Missing of course from this list of eager recipients of Storrs’ materials is CTR – other than the letterhead of J L Russell and Son. However, the very next issue of BE for July 1874, under Letters Received up to June 25, lists C T Russell
So key characters were all in place when Storrs’ visited in May 1874 and preached about the Ages to Come, and when the Restitution advertised Allegheny meetings conducted by Clowes as One Faith in November 1874.
In the December 1874 BE, a belated letter from Joseph Lytel Russell to Storrs was published about the May meeting, apologising for the delay and expressing Joseph’s appreciation for it. Storrs’ responded by saying (quote) Brother Russell is one of our elder brethren, with whom I formed a most agreeable acquaintance while in Pittsburgh last May, and I think of him only to love and respect him (end of quote).
This suggests that Storrs and Joseph Lytel only met in the flesh for the first time at those meetings in May 1874. And there is no mention of CTR in the correspondence. However, assuming CTR was actually there in early May, Storrs would naturally relate more to those nearer his own age.
So George Storrs was a welcomed speaker at Pittsburgh, with whom some at least continued in warm fellowship afterwards.
So, returning to our main point, what does this tell us about the leaning of the group he visited? Was Storrs Age to Come or Advent Christian?
Storrs would probably have denied that he was either. However, his sympathies certainly lay in one direction.
Storrs was fiercely independent, and had restarted Bible Examiner in 1871, after accepting future probation with an inclusiveness that, as noted above, prompted others to accuse him of being universalist.
Future probation had been a hot potato for both Age to Come believers and Adventists, with widely differing views within each group. But in the 1870s the Restitution newspaper at least allowed some debate on the subject. Storrs wrote a number of articles for the Restitution on this theme, as part of an ongoing debate, where some readers accepted the general outline of his views. Storrs’ journal also quoted approvingly from The Restitution on a number of occasions, and. even when disagreeing with them Storrs still addressed them as “dear fellow-laborers”.
So it would be logical for an independent group like the one in Pittsburgh to welcome Storrs as a speaker.
No such rapport can be found between Storrs and the Advent Christian Church throughout the 1870s. One can look in vain for kind words about them in BE.
A few comments directly from Storrs himself about the Advent Christian Church and its organs like The World’s Crisis: (quote) Poor old Rome has some very foolish children...I have nothing but pity for such ...out of their own mouths they are condemned...the same spirit crucified the Lord Jesus...I leave them with their own master...very close to blaspheming against the Holy Spirit (end of quotes).
Some of Storrs’ correspondents were almost apoplectic when mentioning the Advent Christian Church (quote) Unmitigated bigotry...daughters of Rome...covenant breakers...appalling doctrine...as bigoted and sectarian as any other “ists” (end of quotes)
Correspondents sent in material on the assumption that Storrs did not receive The World’s Crisis, and Storrs himself gave a succinct response to one correspondent: I never see the Advent Christian Times!
Storrs summed up his views of both Adventists and Age to Come believers in an article published in July 1876 BE, entitled Adventist View in Error on the End of Probation. He stated (quote) these are painful dilemmas for humane and conscientious Adventists...it makes them secretly hope...that the Age to Come advocates are right (end quote). Then, writing about the Age to Come believer (quote) as he believes in the restoration of Israel and the conversion of them and the Gentile nations, and allows both salvation and probation for such beyond the second advent, he does not burn up the promises of God before they can be fulfilled, like the Adventist (end of quote).
Reading all the above, I think we can safely assume that, had the Allegheny-Pittsburgh group been staunch Advent Christian, there is no way George Storrs would have been on their guest list!
So we have two lines of evidence as to the leanings of the Allegheny-Pittsburgh group in 1874-75 – first, how they were advertised in the religious press and second , how a maverick like Storrs was welcomed.
The third line of evidence is another visitor they had – this time in 1875. And here we come to the interesting case of Elder E Owen.
The November 1875 BE contains a trove of familiar names. Under Letters Received, Storrs notes two from CTR and one from W H Conley. But a little earlier in this issue Storrs published the contents of two other letters, one from Elder G D Clowes and one from J L Russell, both of Pittsburgh.
Both letters expressed support for Storrs’ labours and showed clearly that Clowes and Joseph Lytel were still attending the same meetings. They also give a clue as to the continuing character of those meetings. Clowes writes “Brother Owen is labouring with us”. Joseph Lytel gives a little more detail: “Brother E Owens (sic) of Portsmouth N.H. has been with us on a visit. We were very much pleased with him. I think he is truly a servant of the Lord’s, sent to preach the gospel.”
Elder E Owen (like George Clowes before him) had been claimed as Advent Christian a few years before. He is listed in the World’s Crisis’ speaking lists for 1871, including his home city of Portsmouth, N.H. But by 1875, if not before, he appears to have come to a parting of the ways.
Storrs published several of his letters. The key one was in the issue for April 1874, where, to use a modern expression, Owen has a bit of a rant.
(quote) When so called “men of God” advise congregations to exclude from their houses, and churches, all who believe in the “age to come”, (as was reverently done in this place), I feel to say, God have mercy upon such leaders of the people: for if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. I am fully satisfied the Advent people are growing more and more contracted in sentiment, more and more adverse to investigation; and I am fully aware that spiritual death and declension is inevitable. May God preserve me and as many as can be preserved from imbibing so unfruitful a frame of mind. (end of quote)
Elder Owen had strong feelings over the increasing gulf between Adventists and Age to Come believers and how he had personally fared in the controversy. He clearly eschewed any woolly ecumenical feelings and nailed his colors firmly to the wall. So when George Clowes and Joseph Lytel welcomed Owen with open arms in late 1875 and spoke appreciatively of his ministry, it is obvious which side of the mounting divide they continued to support.
So while the group connected with Joseph Lytel Russell, George D Clowes, William H Conley and CTR may have been independent, its natural home was in the Age to Come family.
And then events took an unexpected turn. Charles Taze Russell met Nelson Barbour.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Quite collectable, Lardent cards are often found as bookmarks in old publications of the Watch Tower Society when they become available. They were also used to send messages, so often contain interesting personal information on the reverse sides.
Frederick Jethro Lardent was born in 1885 and lived until 1970. He was an optician by profession, and wrote articles for medical magazines on occasion. He produced two sets of cards – one with the prefix L (obviously for Lardent) which ran to nearly 200 different copies, and one with the prefix F (for Frederick) which were more photographic in nature.
His cards were circulated by all strands of Bible Student opinion until the mid to late-1920s. Then, as the Daily Heavenly Manna was phased out along with other changes, his cards were more circulated by those who left the Society. By 1931 he was on the speaker’s list for a breakaway movement in Britain. He published several anthologies of his cards, such as The Call of the Bride and Comforted of God. He also published a journal which folded about 1941.
In his will he left his printing blocks to Albert Hudson. Hudson, who once described Lardent’s efforts as having “a sublime disregard for copyright” promptly dumped them. This adds a bit to the scarcity value of the product for collectors.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
The two rectangular pictures are postcards from the Photodrama of Creation. A set of 40 postcards was advertised in 1917 (see reprints page 6077) – and complete sets have passed through my hands on several occasions, always 40 in number.
However, the two colored cards above are numbered 44 and 47b.
Spot the difference.
However, the square picture is the actual slide used in the Photodrama, which is different yet again. (This original is reproduced in the scenario and would later be reproduced again in a motto postcard numbered L-9 – one of the Lardent series.)
Why did they keep on redrawing (not always very successfully) this particular picture - particularly in the Photodrama postcard series?
And does anyone have details of any other Photodrama postcards higher than 40? There is 47a which has a woman on a veranda overlooking a paradise scene with animals entitled PAX, but I have never seen others higher than 40.
Sunday, September 4, 2011
To read this you must ask for access. Contact Mr. Schulz at bwschulz2 at yahoo dot com to request access. Explain your interest briefly. Brief is good.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
With the success of the Photodrama in mind, and the realisation that records were now highly popular, a few Bible Students set up the Angelico Company in 1916. Ostensibly it was to manufacture and sell phonographs, but with each purchase came a set of 50 Angelophone recordings. For some reason they were numbered 49-98, although it is certain that no 1-48 were ever issued. The records were small seven inch discs using the ‘hill and dale’ method to squeeze two minutes on a side at 85 rpm. They were advertised as ‘Old Fireside Hymns’ sung by the celebrated baritone Henry Burr. On the reverse side (also at 85 rpm) were a series of two minute sermons to explain the hymns. These were uncredited, but were Pastor Russell’s own voice. Those who had questions could write to a ‘Free Information Bureau for Angelophone Patrons’. This of course was the Watch Tower Society.
It must have sounded a good idea on paper; reaching people who might be prejudiced by the words Watch Tower. In practice, it was a disaster!
For a start, Henry Burr sounds rather the worse for wear. The hymns contain some high notes that his baritone had considerable difficulty in reaching. Limited to two minutes many hymns were abridged. The reverse side, Pastor Russell’s short sermons – and the only reason the Bible Students would purchase – was even worse! Russell was now in very poor health and died in October 1916. His voice, unsuitable for the Photodrama, was even more unsuitable now. The recordings were very poorly made, and today (without a transcript) much of what is said is indecipherable. It appears to have been the same at the time because complaints flooded in, and the Watch Tower had to announce they had been re-recorded. This time, Harry Humphries was hired again. His voice was slightly slower, so the speed for his recordings was reduced to 80 rpm. There is some improvement, but not a lot, and the records soon ceased production. The Angelophone Hymnal disappeared from the Society’s cost list after 1919.
Note for collectors: there are two issues. The first issue has dark blue paper labels for the ‘Old Fireside Hymns’ and an embossed title for the lectures given (uncredited) by Russell. The second issue has light blue paper labels for the hymns (the words ‘Old Fireside’ are omitted) and off-white paper labels for the lectures given (uncredited) by Humphries.
Taken from “The Watchtower (IBSA) Recordings” published in “The Historic Record” issue 27 (dated April 1993) with kind permission of the author.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
From Jenny Smith's Diary
November 1, 1878.—At Sister Clark's. Two more interesting days have passed. This has been a special privilege. Yesterday A. M. went to Dr. Tyng's church. Attended the convention met to discuss " The Second Coming of Christ;" was surprised to meet acquaintances from all parts of the land. Had the pleasure of meeting several with whom I have corresponded—Rev. H. L. Hastings, Dr. Charles Cullis and others. Brother Russell of Pittsburg, would have me take lunch with him. Note: The convention was the prophetic conference in New York. Thanks to Frank M. for pointing us to this reference.
We have an extra copy of the Watchtower printed American Standard Bible. This is the first printing that still has the Thomas Nelson imprint on the title page with the Watch Tower imprint in the copyright page. It is much harder to find than the later printings with the Nelson imprint removed. It needs a good home. Contact me if you're interested. A donation to our research fund will probably make it yours. This is a used Bible. It appears unmarked, but shows wear. If you're interested let me know.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
From a letter in the St Paul Enterprise for November 14, 1916 (page 3) written by the editor William Abbott to his wife, an eye witness account of the funeral:
At the grave, two heavily veiled ladies followed the coffin, one on the arm of Brother Pyles of Washington, the other on the arm of another brother – I think it was Brother Driscoll. One of the ladies was Mrs Russell – a widow indeed, and I shed a tear for her.
Monday, August 15, 2011
There was only one Congregational Church in Allegheny in 1868. This man was pastor. There continued to be only one Congregational Church in Allegheny City through 1875. We've not reached firm conclusions yet, but we think this was Russell's pastor.
Author: W. D. F.
Publisher: Rochdale, 
The only copy we can find is in the National Library of Scotland. Costs from the US are prohibitive. Anyone in the UK wish to try for a clear photocopy?
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Saturday, August 13, 2011
REID, WILLIAM JAMES: United Presbyterian; b. at South Argyle, Washington County, N. Y., Aug. 17,1834; d. at Pittsburg, Pa., Sept. 22, 1902. He was graduated at Union College, Schenectady, N. Y., 1855, and at Allegheny Theological Seminary, Pa., 1862; was pastor at Pittsburg from 1862; principal clerk of the General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church after 1875; and corresponding secretary of the United Presbyterian Board of Home Missions, 1868-72. He was the author of Lectures on the Revelation (Pittsburg, 1878); and United Presbylerianism (1881).
This is a slightly revised version of an article that first appeared on the Watch Tower History Two blog.
Caveat lector. Let the reader beware.
At the outset, may I state that I cannot supply documentary proof for every detail which follows. However, the article tries to make clear what is verified and what is not. It is presented in the hope that others reading may be able to add to it or substantiate it from their own archives and research.
In the December 27, 1875 issue of the Pittsburgh Post is a small obituary for a familiar name. Reproducing it in full it reads:
CHARLES T RUSSELL
Charles T. Russell died yesterday morning, in the 69th year of his age. He will be remembered by our older citizens as one of the most sterling merchants in the city. He began business in Market Street in 1831, where he remained until 1867, since which time he has been in the brokerage and insurance business. He was a native of Ireland, and came to New York in 1823. He took his early lessons in active business from A.T. Stewart, in New York.
This Charles T. Russell was Charles Tays Russell (hereafter shortened to Charles Tays). He was the uncle of Charles Taze Russell (hereafter abbreviated to CTR). His story has a bearing on the history of his famous nephew.
Perhaps at the outset we could consider the unusual middle name of Tays. Where did this come from? In Charles Tays’ will (which will be discussed below) he mentions a sister who never emigrated, Fannie Russell. Fannie married an Alexander Harper, and died in Donegal, Ireland, in 1867. Donegal borders on Londonderry and the newspaper obituaries for CTR’s father, Joseph Lytel, state that he was born in Londonderry. A check on Ancestry shows there was a large family by the name of Tays in that part of Ireland. (One theory is that they were Scots-Irish named after the river Tay in Scotland). So it is probable that the middle name Tays was a family name – a maiden name for a mother, grandmother or aunt.
When Joseph Lytel Russell named his second son Charles Taze Russell, the spelling changed. However, genealogical records from this era often show variations in spelling, particularly in handwritten documents. (Joseph’s middle name for example is usually spelled Lytel but cemetery records have him down as Lytle). Phonetically, Tays and Taze are the same - let’s call one the Irish spelling and the other the American.
According to the newspaper obituary, Charles Tays came to New York from Ireland in 1823, and learned business from A.T. Stewart in New York.
Alexander Turney Stewart was a highly successful businessman in dry goods, who was born in Northern Ireland of Scots Protestant stock – very much like the Russell family. After receiving an inheritance, Stewart came to New York in 1823 to found a store that, amongst other things, sold imported Irish fabrics, and ultimately became an empire. Charles Tays moved to New York from Northern Ireland in the same year and his subsequent career as a dry goods merchant is linked to Stewart in the obituary. There is no doubt a story there, even if it is now lost to time.
The obituary says (quote) he began business in Market Street in 1831, where he remained until 1867, since which time he has been in the brokerage and insurance business (end of quote).
When his younger brother, Joseph Lytel Russell came to America at some time in the 1840s – no doubt as economic conditions in Ireland worsened – it was logical for him to come to Pittsburgh when Charles Tays was already established. Joseph’s own obituary in the Pittsburgh Gazette of December 18, 1897, states that he initially engaged in the dry goods business with his brother, C. T. Russell in Federal Street, before moving to a men’s furnishing store on Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh.
(Note: Joseph Lytel’s own obituary states he came to “this country about1845”. However, when he applied for US citizenship on October 26, 1848, he and a character witness had to swear that he had been resident in the United States for five years. Until someone can unearth the appropriate passenger list this writer is going to stick at “some time in the 1840s”.)
Returning to Charles Tays, according to his obituary, in 1867 he changed direction (quote) since which time he has been in the brokerage and insurance business (end of quote).
The 1870 Trade Directory for Pittsburgh lists two Charles T. Russells. One is a broker at 111 Smithfield (the Uncle) and the other is a clerk at 96 Liberty (the nephew). On the same page is Joseph L. Russell, furnishing goods at 87 Fifth av, n 96 Liberty.
There appears no evidence that Charles Tays took an interest in religious matters, unlike brother Joseph and nephew CTR. The initials CTR have not been found in periodicals of the day prior to when they obviously referred to Joseph Lytel’s son.
On December 26, 1875 Charles Tays died. The cause of death was recorded as chronic hepatitis. According to the death certificate he was aged 69, single, and had lived at 112 Smithfield for the last four years. The funeral took place on December 29 and he was buried in the Allegheny cemetery in a plot originally bought by his brother James Russell back in 1845. Already buried there were James Russell, Sarah Russell, Eliza Russell (CTR’s mother) and three of her children, Thomas, Lucinda, and Joseph Lytel Jr.
After Charles Tays’ burial, only two more family members would be added – his sister Mary Jane who died in 1886, and finally Joseph Lytel when he died in 1897. (For those who wish to check the Allegheny cemetery records the family plot is Section 7, lot 17. All are listed as buried in grave 1.) A headstone for Charles Tays has survived, and is currently laid flat on the ground.
By the time CTR died in 1916 the Watch Tower Society had its own plot in the Rosemount cemetery in N Pittsburgh, so CTR was buried there.
Charles Tays made a will on March 22, 1872 in which he outlined bequests to a number of relatives. The current family tree for the Russell family in circulation is made up to a large degree from information contained in the will and subsequent documents. Where Charles Tays’ siblings had already died, money - usually in thousand dollar lots - was shared between surviving nephews and nieces if there were any. Joseph Lytel and an attorney David Reed were named as executors of the will. In the event, Reed bowed out, and Joseph became sole executor. For those who would like to check the details for themselves, I have transcribed Charles Tays’ will and other related documents at the end of this article.
So in review, there appear to be three ways that Charles Tays (the other CTR) would affect the history of the Watch Tower movement.
First, he seems responsible for other family members settling in Allegheny and Pittsburgh. From here we have his nephew CTR dropping into a “dusty dingy Hall”, and the rest as they say is history.
Second, CTR’s full name is an obvious gesture towards the Uncle.
Third, there was possible financial help for the work, at least indirectly, from Charles Tays.
Charles Tays did well financially, but his death certificate lists him as unmarried. As noted above, his last will and testament left his assets to surviving brothers and sisters and, where they had predeceased him, to their offspring.
There was a thousand dollars for his brother Alexander (although he was to die before Charles Tays did), a thousand to share between the children of his late sister Fannie, a thousand for Joseph Lytel – and then a larger sum of three thousand dollars that the trustees were asked to invest to pay for the support of his elderly unmarried sister, Mary Jane Russell. On her death, the capital was to be redistributed among the surviving beneficiaries. (There is subsequent documentation on how this did not work out as anticipated and the capital fund had to be dipped into to assist with her care).
An internet search will reveal some confident statements about how much CTR inherited. However, until we have verifiable documentary evidence, any such statements remain hearsay. Still, most would agree that CTR was a shrewd businessman who invested wisely. (For example in the 1894 Harvest Siftings page 21 he explains his success in investing in oil wells). However, it does help to have something tangible to work with. In the parable of the talents the men were given a talent to start with.
So in addition to CTR’s own business acumen in partnership with his father, his uncle’s bequests may have assisted at some point towards what ultimately became CTR’s life’s work.
Such is the story of Charles TAYS Russell. A footnote to history.
LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF CHARLES T RUSSELL
Transcribed by “Jerome”
Note on the transcriptions below:
Where a question mark (?) occurs, it means there is some uncertainty as to the transcription because I have worked off photocopies. Only a visit to a Pittsburgh record office might solve these issues; however, they do not affect anything material in the document.
Last Will and Testament of Charles T. Russell.
Pittsburgh March 22, 1872
I, Charles T. Russell, of the City of Pittsburgh, County of Allegheny, State of Pennsylvania, do make and publish this my last will and testament, hereby revoking and making void all former wills heretofore made at any time by me.
First, I direct that all my debts and funeral expenses be paid as soon after my decease as possible out of the first monies that shall come into the hands of my executors from any portion of my estate, real or personal.
Second, I direct that executors to convert my goods, chattels and effects into money as soon after my decease as possible.
Third, I will and bequeath to the children of my sister Fanny, who died in the year 1867, and was intermarried with Alexander Harper who is still residing in Donegal County, Ireland, the sum of one thousand dollars.
Fourth, I will and bequeath to my sister Mary Jane three thousand dollars which I direct my executors to put to interest for her during her lifetime and at her death I desire that it shall be equally divided among the heirs mentioned in this will.
Fifth, I will and bequeath to my brother Alexander G. Russell and his children now residing in Orange County, State of New York, one thousand dollars.
Sixth, I will and bequeath to my brother Joseph L. Russell and his children one thousand dollars.
I do hereby nominate and appoint my brother Joseph L. Russell and David Reed, Attorney at Law, to be the executors of this my last will and testament, in testimony thereof , I, the said Charles T. Russell, the testator have to this my will at my hand and seal this twenty second day of March, eighteen hundred and seventy-two.
Attest Charles T. Russell seal
State of Pennsylvania
Be it known that on this thirtieth day of December AD 1875 before me Joseph H. Gray, register of wills of (?) in and for the county aforesaid, came W. W. Patrick and Joseph Irwin, and they being duly qualified (the former affirmed and the latter sworn) did express and say they were well acquainted with C. T. Russell deceased and with his hand writing and that the signature to the foregoing instrument of writing is in his own proper hand writing as they verily believe.
Sworn under my hand this 30th day of December AD 1875.
Jos. H. Gray, Registrar
State of Pennsylvania
Be it known that on the 30th day of December AD 1875, letters testamentary with a copy of the will annexed upon the estate of Charles T. Russell died were duly granted unto Joseph L. Russell one of the executors in said will named (David Reed esq. having renounced) who was duly sworn to well and truly administer the goods and chattels, rights and credits, which were of said deceased, and to faithfully comply with the acts of assembly relating to collateral inheritances.
Given under my hand the above date, Jos. H. Gray, Registrar
In Re. Estate of Charles T Russell, Decd.
To the Honorable Mr T. (?) Hawkins Jr. Judge of Alphaus (?) Court of Allegheny County.
Herewith find testimony of Joseph L. Russell, executor, taken at his residence No 80 Cedar Avenue, Allegheny City on Friday April 12, 1878, in accordance with the commission issued to me April 6, 1878.
N F McCook (?)
Mr Joseph L. Russell, (?)
I am the acting executor under the will of my brother, Charles T. Russell, deceased. Hon. David Reed was executor named in the will but declined to act. All the bills against the estate have been paid as far as I know.
The distributions made under the will are as follows:
1st The children of Fannie Harper are:
Mrs F. A. Stewart, Wellsville, Montgomery County, Missouri
John R. Harper, Arlington, St Louis County, Missouri
Mrs Mary Muir, Grand Rapids, Michigan
William James Harper, Broxton, near Castlefin (?) Donegal County, Ireland
Mrs (indistinct – secondary sources say Eliza Nesbitt) Donegal County, Ireland
Thomas R. Harper, Jimason City, Plumas County, California
Mary Jane Russell, Allegheny City, Penna.
Alexander G. Russell, named in the will as brother of deceased died before the decedent. His children are:
Thomas Green Russell, St Louis, Mo.
Sarah Ann Morris, Montgomery, Orange County, New York
Fanny G. Bond, Plainfield, New Jersey
Cornelia S. Davenport, No. 74 Hicks Street, Brooklyn, New York
(my copy of the document ends here)
Document dated September 2, 1886 relating to Mary Jane Russell’s inheritance.
Whereas the late Charles T. Russell, who died in the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, in 1875, bequeathed three thousand dollars ($3000) to his executors in trust, to pay the interest to his sister, Miss Mary Jane Russell, during her lifetime , and, upon her death, to distribute the principal equally among “the heirs mentioned in this will”; and whereas through the inability of his executors to collect certain debts that were due to the estate of the said Charles T. Russell, deceased, the said fund was reduced from three thousand dollars ($3000) to fourteen hundred and eighteen and 51/100 dollars; and whereas the fund so reduced could not be made to yield more than six percent interest, about eighty five dollars per year, and whereas the said Mary Jane Russell is now very aged and infirm and has constantly required more than the amount of the interest of said fund to maintain her, and whereas now much more, she is in need of comfort and attention in her closing years; and whereas it has been found needful to extract certain debts for her maintenance and may require additional debt therefore in the future; Therefore we, Stephen H. Davenport and Cornelia S. Davenport, his wife, in consideration of the premises and of our dollar (?) in hand paid to each of us, the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, hereby authorize J. L. Russell, acting executor of the will of the said Charles T. Russell, deceased, to use as much of the principal of the said fund, in addition to the interest, as may be required, in his judgment, to pay the necessary expenses of the said Mary Jane Russell and the debts that have been extracted for her maintenance. And we hereby release and forever discharge the said J. L. Russell, his executors and administrators of and from such part of our share of the said as he shall so expend. It being understood that the balance of said fund not required for the above mentioned purpose shall be distributed in accord with the terms of the will of the said Charles T. Russell, upon the death of the said Mary Jane Russell.
Witness our hands and seal this second day of September AD 1886.
Stephen H Davenport seal
Cornelia S Davenport seal
74 Hicks Street
Notes on the above
Mary Jane Russell died before the end of 1886 and is buried in the family plot in Allegheny Cemetery.
Cornelia Davenport (a daughter of Alexander Russell) and her husband lived quite near to where the Brooklyn Tabernacle would be. However, she died on October 23, 1888.
Friday, August 12, 2011
We will post snippets of our research, photos and other interesting things. It's time to bring this blog back to life. The difficulty that caused us to close it has gone away.
There will be three blog editors. We hope you enjoy what we post.
Friday, April 15, 2011
The evidence suggests that a discussion between Russell, Peyton Grahm Bowmanand probably Barbour too, took place at the St. George Hall lecture. Bowmanwas a Methodist Episcopal clergyman turned Second Adventist. He was bornin Shenandoah County, Virginia, on September 15, 1809, and "converted toChrist" on June 21, 1828, joining the Methodist Episcopal Church. He immigratedto South Carolina in 1832 where he received an exhorter's license the nextyear. In January 1834 he was received into the South Carolina MethodistConference as a regular minister.
He was an itinerate preacher - a circuit rider - and a very effective evangelist.Wellcome says he "saw thousands of souls converted and united with the MethodistE. Church." A revival held at Concord, North Carolina in 1838 saw seventynew adherents as a result of Bowman's preaching. This was in an era whenMethodists were seen as dangerous sectarians by many.
About 1854 or 1855 he was appointed as a "missionary to the colored peopleof the rice plantations" of South Carolina, "preaching every Sunday to, perhaps,1500 to 2000, and during the week visiting the plantations, catechizing thechildren, visiting the sick, the aged, and infirm, distributing Bibles,Testaments, and hymnbooks to such as could read." Bowman developed a deepaffection for his Black charges; after the Civil War he became an advocatefor their civil rights and for decent treatment.
Peyton G. Bowman in 1874 and 1888.
Drawing is from Wellcome. Photo by Permission Atlanta Bible College [photocaption]
Bowman was exposed to Second Adventism during a trip to the North to raisefunds for his church. Advocating Conditional Immortality caused endless troublefor him. Finally in August 1871 his Presiding Elder, W. H. Fleming, broughtformal charges. He was arraigned for "preaching that from death to theresurrection all is unconscious sleep" and for teaching "that the wickedat the final day will be annihilated from all conscious being forever." Thereport of the "trial" says that Bowman, "having refused to make the promiserequired by the Discipline in such cases is hereby suspended from the ministryuntil the ensuing annual Conference."
Bowman promptly wrote to Fleming saying, "After seriously reflecting on theaction of this committee (viz.) my suspension from the ministry for holdingand teaching doctrines contrary to the Standards of Methodism, and believingthat the annual Conference will confirm said action, and also believing itmy duty to preach the Gospel of our common and blessed Savior, I feel itmy duty to join a communion where these objections do not exist. I herewithtender you my withdrawal from the M. E. Church South."
The committee seems to have been unprepared for this. In an action reminiscentof the more recent acts of certain high-control cults, their reaction amountedto saying, "You can't resign! We expel you!" They passed a resolution tothat effect, sending it to Bowman and publishing it to the Annual Conferencerecords. It expressed their determination to move forward, though with someregret:
The committee on motion of J. A. Porter … unanimously agreed upon thefollowing decision, viz: The Discipline directs that the charge of holdingand dissemination doctrines which are contrary to the recognized standardsof our doctrines shall be subject to the same process as a case of immorality.
In the present case, the accused, not appearing and having plead guilty tothe charge before the committee of investigation, the court are obliged tofind the Rev. P G, Bowman guilty: and in accordance with the law of the church,pronounce him expelled from the communion of the Methodist Episcopal ChurchSouth.
The court is not satisfied to pronounce this sentence without accompanyingit with the expression of he deep regret they feel in performing so painfula duty.
To our erring brother we have no sentiments but those of personal regardand Christian affection. And this duty is not performed in the spirit ofrevenge or prejudice, but from a desire to preserve the church from allcorruption of doctrine.
For a brother who has been so long connected with us in the work of thisministry we shall always pray that God will bring him to see his error …
He continued to minister to Southern Blacks, though his doctrine shiftedto Second Adventism. He asked for assistance from The World's Crisis. "Ifyou have sent one of your preachers to the South this winter to proclaimthe acceptable years of the Lord, do write to him, and tell him not to returnuntil he shall give me a call. I wish to take him around on my circuit."William Sheldon responded. Sheldon would describe Bowman as "a man who willnot wear any theological hand-cuffs and will preach what he believes …fearlessly." He wrote that Bowman was "listened to with deep interest."
George W. Jackson was responsible for founding The Household of Faith Church,a Black Second Adventist congregation in Maryland. Peyton Bowman was theirpastor. [photo caption]
Bowman eventually moved his ministry northward, preaching in Pennsylvania,Massachusetts, New York, and in Maryland. In the late 1870's and early 1880'she was in Pennsylvania. He was for a while pastor of the Salem, Pennsylvania,Church of God, a Second Adventist body of uncertain affiliation. In 1888Bowman was elected to the board of what proved to be an abortive attemptto unify Church of God and One Faith congregations.
He maintained his connection to Black churches and was pastor of the Householdof Faith Church at Blythedale, Maryland, apparently in the late 1870's. Thistoo was an Adventist body of uncertain affiliation. Both its known pastors,A. A. Hoyt and Bowman were viewed favorably by the Advent Christians, butthis does not mean the Household of Faith identified with them. Hoyt wasan Age to Come believer, attending conferences viewed with favor by Marchand the Advent Harbinger. It appears to have been an Age-to-Come congregation.Bowman may have been their first pastor, though the record is uncertain.The church was organized on October 2, 1877, by Edward and George W. Jackson.George W. was a former slave manumitted by joining a black regiment in 1864.
Russell's description of his encounter with Bowman is brief: "I well rememberhearing you speak as a champion of Second Adventism in Philadelphia …I then thought you honest and longed to have you see 'the way of God moreperfectly.'" After Zion's Watch Tower was founded, Russell sent him copies,and by 1887 Bowman was circulating Russell's book, The Plan of the Ages.The circumstances all date the encounter to 1876. Russell dated it to "abouttwelve years pervious;" Barbour's lecture is the only known visit to Philadelphiain that era; the issue was Russell's new understanding of the timing andnature of Christ's return.
Notices in the March 2 and 23, 1889 issues of The Brooklyn Eagle have himas a preacher at a Church of the Blessed Hope congregation. He was usingthe "seats free" notice characteristic of Russell. Bowman died in 1891 leavingno further indication of his relationship to Russell and Barbour. His obituarysuggests that he continued to identify as a Second Adventist until his death,even if he found Russell's Plan of the Ages "incomparable."
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Expect no new posts here. We're over here: http://towerhistory.blogspot.com/